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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 29, 2009 9:49am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Good one! Perhaps even richer than the "love songs that aren't so much love songs afterall" as we discovered below...

I alwyas thought of Attics as a great one in this respect. At least, it seems to me in the same spirit as BlkPet, a reflection on a life's accomplishments and experiences:

In the book of love's own dream
Where all the print is blood
Where all the pages are my days
And all my lights grow old
When I had no wings to fly
You flew to me

Well, blow me down! It's a love song too! Seriously, I have always thought of it as a little of both...?

Morning Dew, though a cover, is a great one for Death of Humanity by its own hand...?

Here's another that is both about death, and the love of the departed:

All I know is something like a bird
within her sang
All I know she sang a little while
and then flew on

And how about "premature pronouncement of death"? Afterall, we find out she's only fractured, depending whether she was the object of the pistol shot I suppose:

A pistol shot at 5 o'clock
The bells of heaven ring...

"Take up your china doll
it's only fractured -
and just a little nervous
from the fall"

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Poster: fenario80 Date: Sep 29, 2009 10:08am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Tell,

According to the Annotated Grateful dead lyics, the original title of China Doll was "The Suicide Song" but they don't say where they got that information ...

http://arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/doll.html

That title adds a whole new spin, doesn't it? It never occurred to me, I always thought it was about murder.

I vaguely remember an interview with Hunter where he said that he wanted to use the broken China Doll - a child's first loss - as a symbol for all earthly tragedy and loss. As far as I can tell they were successful - it's one of jerry's greatest 'mood' songs.

Can't believe I didn't think of Bird Song ...

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Sep 29, 2009 2:54pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: China Doll

Instead of starting a new thread, I thought I'd point out that there HAS been an informative China Doll thread!

http://www.archive.org/iathreads/post-view.php?id=166211

A couple things I'd mention -
One, that the quotation marks in the song are apparently Hunter's. For me, they make the song a bit more confusing, since the lines seem to make less sense when you read it as a dialogue, but maybe someone else can figure it out. (Not that there's a precise meaning, I suspect.)

Also, I believe the music setting also informs the lyrics - before the last verse, the music seems to 'resolve' and become brighter, and the 'la la la's at the end seem to indicate that the singer's become less mournful than at the beginning. But that's just a guess.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 30, 2009 5:59am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: China Doll

Damn...even has all the suicide refs and such...I rarely missed posts by the "other" Ashes, but defn didn't participate in that one...

Thanks for finding it.

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Poster: robthewordsmith Date: Sep 30, 2009 9:51am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: China Doll

Many thanks for that link to past discussions - I can recall reading these posts now but can't think why I didn't participate at the time. This is quite a treasure trove of Dead matters we're building up here. Seek and ye shall find!

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Sep 30, 2009 11:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: China Doll

Yeah, these things tend to come up over & over.... It's funny how every time Hunter's original title of "Suicide Song" is mentioned, someone says, "What? I've never heard that before!"
Though people may think of forums like this as a "community", it's more like a hobo camp where different people drift in & out at different times, ignorance prevails at all times, and the most insightful members are the ones who haven't been heard from in months or years.... But that's life.

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Poster: Jerrob Hungar Date: Oct 2, 2009 7:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: China Doll

Your plaintive comment on 'community' caught my eye, light, if I may call you that!
I miss the participation of many of the forum's former contributors, especially AshesRising, ghostofpig, BryanE and many others whose names I've temporarily forgotten (organic brain syndrome). However, folks like your good self, help keep the home fires burning.

The wiki says, 'In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, risks, and a number of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness.'

Your 'Hobo Camp' description does appeal to me though. http://hobocampreview.blogspot.com/2009/09/howie-good.html

I Am A Lonesome Hobo

Kind ladies and kind gentlemen,
Soon I will be gone,
But let me just warn you all,
Before I do pass on;
Stay free from petty jealousies,
Live by no man's code,
And hold your judgment for yourself
Lest you wind up on this road.

Copyright ©1968; renewed 1996 Dwarf Music

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Poster: robthewordsmith Date: Sep 29, 2009 10:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

The Suicide Song... wow.

"But failing, will not die"

Failure to see the suicide attempt through?

Seriously, can we start a China Doll thread sometime?

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 29, 2009 10:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Hmm--like my pirate comment, I was somewhat tongue in cheek with the "she's only fractured" as I always assumed it was a song about someone else's death, and wasn't entirely sure about the CDoll's role, etc. But, perhaps she is the subject--the one that attempts to commit suicide? Or does she represent the "broken" life the person comforting the other suggests can be picked up and restarted?

I'll check the lyrics before babbling more...

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Poster: robthewordsmith Date: Sep 29, 2009 10:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Babble on, rose.

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Poster: Earl B. Powell Date: Sep 29, 2009 12:29pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Although China Doll and Unbroken Chain were written by different authors, the pairing makes for a long long period of introspection.

Roll you down the line boy
Drop you for a loss
Ride you out on a cold railroad
and nail you to a cross...


Don't know, but the pair are probably the most provocative 1-2 punch in the boys lineup.

This post was modified by Earl B. Powell on 2009-09-29 19:29:21

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Poster: robthewordsmith Date: Sep 29, 2009 11:35am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Excellent thought, Earl. The religious undercurrent is perhaps more understated in China Doll but still there never the less. It's this kind of thing that keeps us coming back again and again to these songs.

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Poster: fenario80 Date: Sep 29, 2009 11:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

And the verse that comes before that one:

"Willow sky,
well I walk and wonder why
they say love your brother,
but you will catch it when you try,

Roll you down the line, boy ..."

I think of these lines all the time ... they are with me in my everyday life, more than any other GD lyric.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 29, 2009 10:30am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Whoa--almost another of those "here's what the writer really meant!" incidents, eh? Although, as we have all recognized before, the beauty of Hunter tunes is that we all go on and on debating these issues precisely because they do allow for multiple interpretations.

Though out of my era, and not one of my fav tunes, there is something that draws me to CDoll...not sure, but almost like it's a strange little "poetry reading" in the middle of a jam...if that makes sense.

Not sure I can speak to the depth that you and Rob aspire to in this case though...will have to look up the complete lyrics...

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Poster: robthewordsmith Date: Sep 29, 2009 10:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Got my pedantic bastard hat on now: Hunter's *lyrics*, *Jerry's* tunes. Sheesh!

But yes indeed, your point well taken. I was lightly roasted by the late, great ghostofpig when I suggested some time ago that the reader's interpretation of the song reveals as much about the reader as the writer:

""The thing about a great lyric or poem is that it holds up a mirror to the reader wherein he sees reflected back his own hopes and fears and experiences – which may, or more likely may not, parallel those of the poet."

Oh sweet haggis, not the mirror metaphor. Good poetry holds up a the bank of wisdom and, like Robin Hood, dispenses its riches to the impoverished and needy.""

But in my idiot way I still think there's some merit in it!

(Come back, gop!)

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 29, 2009 11:07am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Side note: I don't think GoP likes me anymore...we got into a length exchange about our ability to judge art, and as the realistic hardliner I am, Post Modernity critic of the first order, we parted company...Can't say that I've seen him hereabouts for months.

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Poster: robthewordsmith Date: Sep 29, 2009 1:09pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

If skies wasn't 'real' I'd think it was ghostofpig...

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 29, 2009 2:37pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Ha! OMG--if you knew how much I am laughing at that...damn...sorry--no offense skies nor pig...that is just too funny.

I can't believe how juvenile I can be when something is funny. Pathetic, but what the Hell; I've paid my dues.

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Poster: skies Date: Sep 30, 2009 7:28am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Pathetic weasal william tell ,yes !A sheep always for the bad and ugly as long as it has the masses applauding him!

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Poster: bbbrew Date: Sep 30, 2009 8:34am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

I like weasels and their kin, Skies. Never met a pathetic one. A Sea otter once fought my 90lb. Coonhound right off his rock home. Brave, brilliant critters. If you liked the Phoebe birds youll love these.


Attachment: photo.jpg
Attachment: Californian-sea-otter-anchored-in-kelp.jpg

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Poster: skies Date: Sep 30, 2009 9:55am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Cute little weasel,bbbrew !

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 30, 2009 7:48am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

"Pathetic weasal"? I can live with that--probably fits, and I've been called much worse.

But, you give me too much credit as a mustelid inclined toward cheap laughs...you should know that GoP was a regular regular round here for years, and being compared with him isn't the insult you imagine...it was only funny to me because of the implications of how your combined approaches to posting might explain any number of past interactions. There's really not anything derogatory about it--an inside joke of a trivial sort.

So, don't get your French undies in a bundy.

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Poster: skies Date: Sep 30, 2009 8:38am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

OK,William Tell ,I heard your explanations . A bit sad tho,that I get wary abut what you may say these days .I used to think of you as the truly sweet guillame tell ,remember ?As for Direwolf ,don't get thinking nothing ,he just has a certain "savoir faire" I thought all deadheads were about ,when i was in america . But the times are a changing ,and believe me , I regret my naive illusions about you all !

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Poster: robthewordsmith Date: Sep 30, 2009 9:18am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

It's being a 'sheep always for the bad and ugly' that should worry you. You know what Dire and SDH say about my (alleged) proclivities ...

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Poster: skies Date: Sep 30, 2009 5:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Ghost of pigpen ?

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 29, 2009 10:44am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Hey, so here's the rest of what Fenario was getting at, by the other guy (Meador or some such name?) at Dodd's site (assume you've seen it from above, but for completeness sake):

"This song was originally titled The Suicide Song, and I at first looked at it as a dialog between a suicide and God or Jesus, where the suicide argues in favor of being allowed into heaven even though he/she committed what for Catholics is an unforgivable sin. But then an even more bizarre interpretation dawned on me, and well, you should always go with the bizarre.

I think one way to look at this song is to see it as a commentary on the threat of nuclear war. It imagines the aftermath of The Bomb in much the same way Morning Dew did. In this light, I see the song as a dialog between a Human (representing humankind) and a Creator in the wake of a nuclear holocaust where humans destroy themselves completely. The bombs are dispatched-- "a pistol shot at five o'clock"-- and the resulting holocaust shakes even "the bells of heaven", causing them to ring. The Creator, perhaps in despair of His destroyed work, asks the Human "Tell me what you done it for". The Human refuses to "tell you a thing".

But then the Human points out that he/she had begged the Creator yesterday "before I hit the ground", a plea for mercy that the Creator was unable to give. The Human also consoles the Creator with "all I leave behind me is only what I found", meaning that while mankind and its works are destroyed, the earth will eventually recover and life will go on. The Human then asks "if you can abide it let the hurdy-gurdy play", meaning even though mankind is so flawed as to create the means of its own destruction, let it be born again out of the ashes of its self-destruction. After all, "stranger ones" than we have come and gone in the pageant of the cosmos.

Finally, the Human promises that unlike in the time of Jesus, "I will not condemn you nor yet would I deny", perhaps signaling a promise of a new birth in spirituality among humankind. The Human then asks the Creator to also refrain from condemning or denying its creation just because it is flawed, but assures the Creator that in any case, it "will not die".

In the last part, the Human reassures the Creator that his creation will survive even this self-destruction, that the Creator can "Take up your china doll" (the earth/life), which isn't destroyed but "only fractured, just a little nervous from the fall".

How's that for way over-thinking this song!!!"

I assume all of that is HIM not HUNTER, except that he somehow knows it was called the suicide song...are we sure? I assume it's the case, but, anyhow, interesting analysis above, eh?

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Poster: fenario80 Date: Sep 29, 2009 11:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Yeah - being an old English Lit guy myself, I think that guy's little essay on this song is pretty-darn-good, but as Rob keeps reminding us, no-one's interpretation is the be-all and end-all. Mostly I was interested in the new piece of information about the Suicide title. Completely changed my view of the song.

Rob's right that we could do a whole thread just on this one song. It's one of Hunter's ripest lyrics.

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Poster: cush212 Date: Sep 30, 2009 9:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

I'm surprised no one got this. China Goll was written in memory of a family members suicide/ Can;t rmrmber who right now, probably will this afternoon, Couldn't read the whole thread on account of forgot mt glasses...

Pargon typos on same account pleez

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Poster: robthewordsmith Date: Sep 29, 2009 10:14am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

Well, blow me down! It's a love song too!

I think we're going to find that the two very often go hand in hand - two sides of the coin, etc. You don't regret losing what you never wanted to hold on to, whether it be life or lover.

And yes, Attics is an excellent example.

China Doll is a very deep song. I think it's told from the perspective of the victim, the one shot at five o'clock, possibly by a (misguided?) jealous lover

Yesterday I begged you
Before I hit the ground

who the 'China Doll' forgives and absolves of blame for his/her act, whatever the consequences:

I will not condemn you
Nor yet would I deny
I would ask the same of you
But failing, will not die

I think we could have a whole rich thread on just that song if anyone cares to open it.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 29, 2009 10:32am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful death songs

How bizarre that I typed that??! Talk about pretentious or I don't know what...

Really I was trying to convey that I was initially surprised to find it was both, though I know the lyrics well, and it is self evident...funny, but somehow I had concluded it was an open and shut "death" song, grabbed the lyrics and realized, "duh, it is also..." and then typed that strange little pirate phrase...

Too early in the morning?

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